Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Benefits
If you are unemployed and unable to get back to work, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits if your impairment will last for more than a year or could result in death. Check the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments to determine whether your condition qualifies you.
The Social Security Administration recommends you file as soon as possible after an injury.
The initial determination of eligibility occurs within 120 days of filing your claim. Reconsideration requests take a further 90 days. The appeals hearing stage can take over a year. Beyond that, appeals that reach the federal courts can take several years to decide.
If you have not filed your appeal within 65 days of the date on the denial letter sent from the Social Security Administration, you have to start over with a new claim. That new claim may result in the loss of back benefits.
An attorney will be able to assist you in appealing your denial of benefits by using their expertise in SSDI cases to build your argument for benefits and then make your case at the subsequent hearings. Some examples of what a SSDI attorney does include:
- Gathering information from treating physicians
- Refer claimants to specialists for medical reports that make for a more solid case at appeals hearings
- Commission a vocational expert’s evaluation on the claimant’s inability to work
- Ask the SSA that a prior application that was denied be reopened
- Ask for deadline extensions or a waiver of time requirements
- Coach the claimant on how to act and respond appropriately at an appeal hearing
- Act as an advocate at the appeal hearing by cross-examining witnesses, objecting to evidence and procedures that are improper, and giving a closing statement
- Make sure the SSA correctly calculates benefits
- If the appeal is unsuccessful, request a rehearing by the Appeals Council
What are the differences between SSDI and SSI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
In order to receive benefits, an individual must be totally disabled and have paid Social Security taxes in the past.
An individual must meet the following criteria:
- Have limited income
- Have limited assets
- Be a U.S. citizen or qualifying nonresident
- Live in the United States or outlying territories
Monthly disability payments are based on the Social Security earning record of the insured worker.
Payments are need-based. Some states add money to federal SSI payments.
Individuals on SSD will receive Medicare benefits automatically after being on disability for two years.
In most states, individuals are automatically qualified to receive Medicaid benefits when on SSI.